Colonial Frames, Nationalist Histories: Imperial Legacies, Architecture, and Modernity

1st Edition

Mrinalini Rajagopalan, Madhuri Desai

Published July 28, 2012
Reference - 336 Pages
ISBN 9780754678809 - CAT# Y238285
Series: Ashgate Studies in Architecture


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In recent years, there has been a growing debate on the various ways that architecture and urbanism have served the triad of colonialism, nationalism and modernity. Some have argued that newly decolonized nations sought to represent their modernity through the spaces and symbols of their new national capitals, while other scholars have stressed that while the forms and processes of architectural modernization have no doubt served as aids to various nation-building projects, it is the specific role of individual agents (such as planners, architects, an emerging twentieth-century bourgeois citizen, or colonial administrators) in this national project that needs attention. However, many such explorations of this subject have so far taken the form of monographs that concentrate on one city, thereby limiting the scope required to address the broader questions at hand. By juxtaposing case studies from various colonial and postcolonial settings from around the world, this edited volume provides a comprehensive and diachronic investigation of the ways in which architecture and urban space mediate the intersections of colonialism, nationalism, and modernity. Examining such spaces as archaeological sites, memorials, new buildings, or historic urban fabric, the book questions certain established dichotomies such as that of the imperial center and the colonized periphery; the colonial past and the postcolonial present; or the isolation of the national or local from the global. Besides offering unique historical perspectives on colonialism, nationalism and modernity, each case-study also reassesses theories regarding memory and monumentalization; the appropriation and deployment of tradition in the service of nationalism; and the institutions of modernity. A common thread throughout the essays in this volume is a focus on new loci of power that emerge either in collision with colonial power structures, or in collaboration with or those that emerge in the wake of decolonization. While the authors recognize the presence of a larger structure of colonial hegemony, they also investigate those centers of power that emerge in the interstices of crevices of colonial power. Interdisciplinary and theoretically innovative, this book offers a global perspective on colonial and national landscapes, rewrites the master creator narrative, examines national landscapes as sites of contestation and views the globalization of processes such as archaeology beyond the boundaries of the national.

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